A group of churches in the Interlake has banded together to support a Syrian refugee family. Now, they are looking to support one more.
The Interlake Refugee Support Network (IRSN) was born during the Syrian refugee influx. A group at a church in the Interlake wanted to sponsor a family, but realized they couldn't do it as a small town church. So the IRSN was created as a link between the church and the community as a whole. They were assigned a family of seven from Syria, and along with the government, were able to support this family. Not everything went smoothly for the family though.
"Their oldest son is still not here," Audrey Hicks, one of the original founders of IRSN said. "He didn't have the right paperwork." The family had to flee Syria without their oldest son, who they haven't seen in almost three years.
"He's now made it to Turkey, so we're just trying to get the government paperwork done to get him from Turkey to Canada," Hicks said.
The Syrian family has adjusted to life in Canada. The father started part-time work, and will be able to move to full-time and support his family on his own in the coming months. "Their English is amazing," Hicks said. "The youngest daughter is in gymnastics, and the boys are learning how to play hockey." Hicks says the father is learning how to drive as well.
The support the first family had was overwhelming, so the IRSN has decided to take in another family. The incoming family are related to the current family, and they consist of 12 people. "A mom and a dad and their children," Hicks said about the new family. "Their oldest son is married, so him and his wife, and they have two children as well."
Last time, the government helped support the newcomer family. This time, all the support is private. "We have to raise all the funds for them," Hicks said. "And that includes airfare to get them here and everything."
To help, the IRSN is putting on a Community Auction and Dessert Night. The event takes place March 4 at 6:00 p.m. at Arborg Community Hall. The night consists of a silent and live auction, plus locally made pies as they hope to raise a total of $95,000 to facilitate the cost of travel and living expenses for one year. Hicks says they still need prizes, which can be either physical or services you can provide.